Dhaka: A special court in Bangladesh on Wednesday
handed jail terms to 29 border guards for their role in the
bloody mutiny last year that killed 57 army officers,
including BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed.
The bloody mutiny at Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR)
headquarters in the capital from February 25-26 sparked a
killing spree that had left 74 people dead, including 57 army
BDR chief Major General Mainul Islam, who chaired the
court, convicted all the 29 accused of the 25 Rifles Battalion
stationed at the frontier district in first such judgement,
according to officials.
"Thirteen of them were handed down the highest seven
years of imprisonment under the (BDR Act) while the others
were given jail terms ranging between four months and six
years," a BDR spokesman told agency after the verdict.
He said four of the accused earlier confessed their
offense and sought clemency during the hearing. The court
pointed out that they were shown "leniency".
The judgement came after five days of hearing that
began on February 5 at the heavily guarded makeshift
courtroom. They were accused of taking up arms, breaking into
arsenals as the mutiny spread in BDR sector and battalion
headquarters in frontier districts.
Earlier, even as the military had demanded that all
mutineers be tried by court martial, the government decided to
comply with a Supreme Court directive to try ordinary
mutineers, who did not take part in indiscriminate killings or
lootings, under the relatively lenient BDR Act that prescribes
the maximum of seven years of imprisonment.
Officials said they had prepared an initial list
of some 900 BDR soldiers out of around 2,100 detained border
guards to be charged for their alleged involvement in killings
and lootings and keeping the family members of the army
officers at their Pilkhana headquarters hostage.
It was decided to try those accused of murder, looting
and theft under the tough speedy trial tribunal which has the
highest death penalty.